Former Gators RB Blakely visiting USF, Holtz today
Running back Mike Blakely, the former Bradenton Manatee standout who is transferring from Florida after one semester with the Gators, is scheduled to visit USF today and meet with head coach Skip Holtz, Manatee assistant Rod Frazier said Monday.
Blakely isn't likely to make his decision until he takes a few visits, Frazier said, and confirmed what Josh Newberg of 247sports.com has been out in front on, identifying three schools that Blakely has mentioned as options: USF, North Carolina and Central Florida. Frazier said he hasn't heard Blakely mention any other schools yet, but said "he has a lot of options ... he has no idea right now."
(INCREDIBLY INCREMENTAL UPDATE: Blakely has acknowledged his visit to USF on his Facebook page, and in doing so, used an exclamation point. Just one exclamation point, yes.)
Frazier said that Blakely only used one official visit (to Gainesville) before choosing Florida, so he has still have four official (all-expenses-paid) visits available to him as he re-opens his recruitment. Some media outlets have mentioned that homesickness was a factor in Blakely's decision to leave the Gators after early-enrolling in January -- raising the question of why he would consider schools farther from his Bradenton home -- but Frazier said homesickness was not part of Blakely's decision.
"That was not a factor," he said. "He was just unhappy there."
Frazier said the biggest reason for Blakely's decision to transfer was the complete changeover in coaching staff from the people he committed to, with head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and running backs coach Stan Drayton all gone when he arrived on campus in January.
Frazier said Blakely was offered by USF out of high school, but had made it clear he wanted to play in the SEC -- he would have the option of doing that now, despite Florida blockng any direct transfer to a conference rival. Blakely could choose the same path that quarterback Cam Newton took in going from Florida to a junior college to Auburn -- and that "is one option" Blakely is aware of, Frazier said.
Blakely would have to sit out this fall at a four-year school as a transfer, but would then have his full four years of eligibility at USF or another four-year program. The Bulls wouldn't present much in the way of established running backs in Blakely's way, as the top two backs entering the 2011 season, Demetris Murray and Darrell Scott, would be seniors when Blakely was a redshirt freshman. Two other backs, Marcus Shaw and Bradley Battles, totaled 166 rushing yards as freshmen last year and would be two years ahead of Blakely.
UNC, by comparison, had seniors for its top three rushers in 2010, with rising senior Ryan Houston listed as the starter entering 2011. The Tar Heels do have a highly touted recruit in redshirt freshman Giovanni Bernard, who was a four-star back coming out of Fort Lauderdale.
USF already has one Florida transfer all but officially on board for 2011 in receiver Chris Dunkley, a former five-star recruit from Pahokee who will sit out this fall and have three years of eligibility with the Bulls.